Isaiah 21:11
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
A prophecy against Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir, "Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?"

New Living Translation
This message came to me concerning Edom: Someone from Edom keeps calling to me, "Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?"

English Standard Version
The oracle concerning Dumah. One is calling to me from Seir, “Watchman, what time of the night? Watchman, what time of the night?”

New American Standard Bible
The oracle concerning Edom. One keeps calling to me from Seir, "Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?"

King James Bible
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
An oracle against Dumah: One calls to me from Seir," Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?"

International Standard Version
A message concerning Dumah. "Someone is calling to me from Seir: 'Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?'

NET Bible
Here is a message about Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir, "Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?"

New Heart English Bible
The burden of Dumah. One calls to me out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?"

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This is the divine revelation about Dumah. Someone is calling to me from Seir, "Watchman, how much of the night is left? Watchman, how much of the night is left?"

JPS Tanakh 1917
The burden of Dumah. One calleth unto me out of Seir: 'Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?'

New American Standard 1977
The oracle concerning Edom.
            One keeps calling to me from Seir,
            “Watchman, how far gone is the night?
            Watchman, how far gone is the night?”

Jubilee Bible 2000
The burden of Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of this night? Watchman, what of this night?

King James 2000 Bible
The burden concerning Dumah. He calls to me from Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

American King James Version
The burden of Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

American Standard Version
The burden of Dumah. One calleth unto me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Douay-Rheims Bible
The burden of Duma calleth to me out of Seir: Watchman, what of the eight? watchman, what of the night?

Darby Bible Translation
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

English Revised Version
The burden of Dumah. One calleth unto me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Webster's Bible Translation
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

World English Bible
The burden of Dumah. One calls to me out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?"

Young's Literal Translation
The burden of Dumah. Unto me is one calling from Seir 'Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?'
Study Bible
A Prophecy against Edom
10O my threshed people, and my afflicted of the threshing floor! What I have heard from the LORD of hosts, The God of Israel, I make known to you. 11The oracle concerning Edom. One keeps calling to me from Seir, "Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?" 12The watchman says, "Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again."…
Cross References
Genesis 25:14
and Mishma and Dumah and Massa,

Genesis 32:3
Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

Song of Solomon 3:3
"The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, And I said, 'Have you seen him whom my soul loves?'

Isaiah 21:12
The watchman says, "Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again."

Jeremiah 6:17
"And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.'

Obadiah 1:1
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom-- We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, "Arise and let us go against her for battle "--
Treasury of Scripture

The burden of Dumah. He calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Dumah. Dumah is probably the same as Dumatha, a city of Arabia, mentioned by Stephanus, and the modern Dumah and Dumathalgandel, on the borders of Arabia and Syria, in a rocky valley. The Edomites, says Bp. Lowth, as well as Jews, were subdued by the Babylonians. They enquire of the prophet how long their subjection is to last; he intimates that the Jews should be delivered from their captivity; not so the Edomites. 'The morning cometh, and also the night'.

Genesis 25:14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

1 Chronicles 1:30 Mishma, and Dumah, Massa, Hadad, and Tema,

me out

Isaiah 34:1 Come near, you nations, to hear; and listen, you people: let the …

Isaiah 63:1-6 Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? …

Numbers 24:18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for …

Deuteronomy 2:5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, …

Psalm 137:7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who …

Jeremiah 49:7-22 Concerning Edom, thus said the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in …

Ezekiel 35:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Joel 3:19 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, …

Amos 1:6,11,12 Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, …

Obadiah 1:1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus said the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We …

Malachi 1:2-4 I have loved you, said the LORD. Yet you say, Wherein have you loved …

what

Isaiah 21:6 For thus has the LORD said to me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare …

Jeremiah 37:17 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked …

(11) The burden of Dumah.--Several places of the name are mentioned in the Old Testament (Genesis 25:14; Joshua 15:52), but these are not in the direction of Seir. Probably here, as in Isaiah 21:1 and Isaiah 22:1, we have a mystical prophetic name, Edom being altered to Dumah, i.e., "silence," as in Psalm 94:17; Psalm 115:17, the silence of the grave. In this case, as in the preceding, there is first the oppressive silence of expectancy, and then of desolation.

He calleth . . . out of Seir . . .--The subject is indefinite: one calleth. The watchman hears the silence of the night broken by a voice from Seir. It is probable that the prophet had actually been consulted by the Edomites, and that this is his answer to their enquiries. The cry is, "Watchman, what part of the night?" In the weary night of calamity the sufferer desires to know what hour it is, how much of the darkness still remains to be lived through. The answer is mysterious and ill-boding. There is a "morning" coming, a time of light and hope, but the day which is so opened closes too quickly in the blackness of night (Amos 5:18). The words sum up the whole future of Edom, subject as it was to one conqueror after another, rising now and then, as under Herod and the Romans, and then sinking to its present desolation.

Verses 11, 12. - THE BURDEN OF DUMAH. This short "burden" is probably to be understood as uttered with reference to Edom, which the prophet prefers to call "Dumah," i.e. "silence," in reference to the desolation which he sees to be coming upon the country. Such a play upon words is very usual in the East. Isaiah has already given an instance of it in the name under which he has designated Heliopolis (Isaiah 19:18). Verse 11. - Dumah. There were at least two towns of this name ('Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 1. pp. 459, 460); but neither of them is in the district of Seir. It is best, therefore, to regard "Dumah" here as representing Edom, or Iaumaea (so the LXX., Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Kay, Cheyne, and others). He calleth to me; rather, one calleth to me; i.e. I seem to hear a call from Mount Seir, as of one making inquiry of me. There is no need to suppose that the inquiry was actually made. Mount Self, or the district south-south-east of the Dead Sea, was the heart of the Idumaean country, which thence extended vaguely eastward and westward. What of the night? i.e. what hour, or, rather, perhaps, what watch of the night is it? May we consider that "the night is far spent, and the day at hand? Edom had offended Sargon by joining with Ashdod (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 130), and was probably at tiffs time oppressed by Sargon in consequence. The burden of Dumah,.... Whether this prophecy concerns the Edomites or Idumeans, or whether the Arabians, particularly the Dumean Arabians, is a question, since Dumah was a son of Ishmael, Genesis 25:14 and there was a place in Arabia called Dumatha (y); and Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it here of Dumah the son of Ishmael; but inasmuch as mention is made of Seir, a mountain, which belonged to the Edomites, Genesis 36:8 and a distinct prophecy afterwards follows concerning Arabia, it is more generally thought that Dumah signifies Edom or Idumea; the Septuagint version renders it, the vision of Idumea; and the Arabic version calls it, a prophecy concerning Edom and Seir; and Jarchi, by Dumah, understands Edom; and Kimchi himself observes, that in a book of R. Meir's, it was found written,

"the burden of Duma, the burden of Edom.''

Jerom says, Duma is not the whole province of Idumea, but a certain country in it, that lay to the south, twenty miles distant from a city of Palestine, in his days called Eleutheropolis; and further observes, that some of the Hebrews read "Roma" for "Duma", and suppose that the Roman empire is designed; and certain it is, that nothing is more common with them than to call the Roman empire, and Rome itself, by the name of Edom, and the Romans, or Christians, Edomites (z):

he calleth to me out of Seir; a mountain inhabited by the Edomites, the posterity of Esau, so called from Seir the Horite, Genesis 36:8. The Targum understands this of God calling from heaven to the prophet to prophesy; and Jarchi of an angel, or a prophet out of Seir, calling to God, who he supposes is meant by the watchman; but it seems best to interpret it of an Edomite, or an inhabitant of Mount Seir, calling to the watchman, and saying, as follows:

watchman, what of the night? watchman, what of the night? what time of night is it? what o'clock is it? how much of the night is gone, and what remains to come? it is the business of watchmen to give or tell the time of night: or, "what from the night?" (a) what has happened since it was night? hast thou observed nothing? is not the enemy nigh, or danger at hand? or, "what" sayest thou "concerning the night?" the night of darkness, affliction, and distress, in which we are, when will it be over? the question is repeated, as is usual with persons in a panic, and fearing the watchman should not hear them the first time; or it may denote one coming after another in a fright, asking the same question. Some, by the watchman, understand God himself, as Jarchi and Abarbinel, who is Israel's keeper, Psalm 121:4 where the same word is used as here; and well agrees with God, who is the keeper and preserver of all men in a way of providence; and of his own people in a way of grace; and who, as he watches over the evil of sin, to bring the evil of affliction or punishment for it; so he watches over his, to do good unto them; and, as the times and seasons are in his power only, and are known by him, it is most proper to apply unto him. Others think Christ is meant, as Cocceius; and so the Jews say (b), this is Metatron the keeper of Israel, which with them is one of the names of the Messiah; and to whom this character of a watchman agrees, as he is the shepherd of his flock, and the keeper of his people; and who, as the omniscient God, knows all things that are, and shall be, and which will quickly come to pass: though it may be best of all to understand it of a prophet or prophets, who were called watchmen under the Old Testament, Isaiah 21:6 as ministers of the word are under the New, in allusion to shepherds and watchmen of cities; and whose business it is, as to show sinners the danger of their ways, and to arouse sleepy saints, so to give the time of night, that the churches of Christ may know whereabout they are. Now let it be observed, that this prophecy may refer to the times when Dumah, Edom, or Idumea, was possessed by the Jews, according to the prophecy in Numbers 24:18 as it was before the coming of Christ; Herod, an Idumean, was upon the throne of Judea when he came, at which time the Jews and Idumeans were mixed together; and the latter, at least many of them, embraced the Jewish religion (c), and so had knowledge of the Messiah and his coming, after which they may be thought to be inquiring here. The Mosaic dispensation was a night season, there was much obscurity in it, the shadows of darkness were stretched out on it; and though there was the moon of the ceremonial law, and there were the stars the prophets, yet the sun of righteousness was not risen; and it was a time of gross darkness with the Gentile world: now one or more of these proselyted Idumeans, or of the Jews among them, may be supposed to be inquiring of the prophet or prophets of the Lord in their time, how much of this night was gone, when it would be over, or the Messiah would appear, and bring in the morning, and make the bright day of the Gospel dispensation. And again, as Edom and Seir were typical of Rome Papal, or the Romish antichrist, the person calling out to the watchman may design such of the people of God in the midst of them, for which see Revelation 18:4 who, sensible of the night of darkness they are in, are looking for and inquiring after latter day light and glory. The Targum of the whole verse is,

"the burden of the cup of curse, to give Dumah to drink: to me he calls out of heaven, prophet, declare unto them the prophecy; prophet, declare unto them what shall hereafter come to pass.''

(y) Vid. Hiller. Onomasticon Sacr. p. 797. (z) Vid. Buxtorf. Lexic. Talmud. Colossians 30, 31, &c. (a) "quid accidit ex quo nox est?" Vatablus. (b) Zohar in Exod. fol. 54. 2.((c) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 13. c. 9. sect. 1. Ed. Hudson. Isa 21:11, 12. A Prophecy to the Idumeans Who Taunted the Afflicted Jews in the Babylonish Captivity.

One out of Seir asks, What of the night? Is there a hope of the dawn of deliverance? Isaiah replies, The morning is beginning to dawn (to us); but night is also coming (to you). Compare Ps 137:7. The Hebrew captives would be delivered, and taunting Edom punished. If the Idumean wish to ask again, he may do so; if he wishes an answer of peace for his country, then let him "return (repent), come" [Barnes].

11. Dumah—a tribe and region of Ishmael in Arabia (Ge 25:14; 1Ch 1:30); now called Dumah the Stony, situated on the confines of Arabia and the Syrian desert; a part put for the whole of Edom. Vitringa thinks "Dumah," Hebrew, "silence," is here used for Idumea, to imply that it was soon to be reduced to silence or destruction.

Seir—the principal mountain in Idumea, south of the Dead Sea, in Arabia-Petræa. "He calleth" ought to be rather, "There is a call from Seir."

to me—Isaiah. So the heathen Balak and Ahaziah received oracles from a Hebrew prophet.

Watchman—the prophet (Isa 62:6; Jer 6:17), so called, because, like a watchman on the lookout from a tower, he announces future events which he sees in prophetic vision (Hab 2:1, 2).

what of the night—What tidings have you to give as to the state of the night? Rather, "What remains of the night?" How much of it is past? [Maurer]. "Night" means calamity (Job 35:10; Mic 3:6), which, then, in the wars between Egypt and Assyria, pressed sore on Edom; or on Judah (if, as Barnes thinks, the question is asked in mockery of the suffering Jews in Babylon). The repetition of the question marks, in the former view, the anxiety of the Idumeans.21:11,12 God's prophets and ministers are as watchmen in the city in a time of peace, to see that all is safe. As watchmen in the camp in time of war, to warn of the motions of the enemy. After a long sleep in sin and security, it is time to rise, to awake out of sleep. We have a great deal of work to do, a long journey to go; it is time to be stirring. After a long dark night is there any hope of the day dawning? What tidings of the night? What happens to-night? We must never be secure. But many make curious inquiries of the watchmen. They would willingly have nice questions solved, or difficult prophecies interpreted; but they do not seek into the state of their own souls, about the way of salvation, and the path of duty. The watchman answers by way of prophecy. There comes first a morning of light, and peace, and opportunity; but afterward comes a night of trouble and calamity. If there be a morning of youth and health, there will come a night of sickness and old age; if a morning of prosperity in the family, in the public, yet we must look for changes. It is our wisdom to improve the present morning, in preparation for the night that is coming after it. Inquire, return, come. We are urged to do it quickly, for there is no time to trifle. Those that return and come to God, will find they have a great deal of work to do, and but little time to do it in.
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